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Antioxidants during pregnancy may help prevent birth defects tied to alcohol

ntioxidants to alcoholic beverages has been proposed as a way of helping the situation, at least a little, for those women who are unable to quit drinking alcohol."

The amount of alcohol used in the study is high, Sulik added, equivalent to the amount that would raise the blood alcohol level of a person up to 0.4 or 0.5. This is a level that can be achieved by chronic alcoholics, people who have acquired a tolerance for alcohol. "Virtually all children born with full-blown fetal alcohol syndrome, with major malformations caused by alcohol, are born to chronic alcoholics," Sulik said. "Chronic alcoholism is a huge problem in our population."

Results from the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), a study directed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), show that the number of American adults age 18 years and older who abuse alcohol or are alcohol dependent rose from 13.8 million (7.41 percent) in 1991-1992 to 17.6 million (8.46 percent) in 2001-2002.

"There is no 'magic number' as to a safe versus unsafe amounts of alcohol consumed during pregnancy," Sulik said. "It would differ from person to person. It would be different depending on the stage of pregnancy, the sensitivity of the developing fetus.

"And the stages we're looking at are really very early, before women would even recognize pregnancy. The bottom line: If there's a chance you could become pregnant, don't drink, or if you're drinking don't get pregnant."

The research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. "This is an elegant expansion of Dr. Sulik and other researchers' work that further strengthens our understanding of the oxidative processes involved in the development of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. This finding may contribute to a new approach in preventing FASD," said Dr. Kenneth Warr
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18-Jun-2004


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